2022 Volume 32 Issue 5 Pages 215-220
Background: In 2012, the Korean National Health Insurance extended its coverage to include denture services for older adults. We examined whether the new policy resulted in improved chewing ability in the eligible population.
Methods: We used interrupted time-series (ITS) analysis, a quasi-experimental design, to analyze the effect of the policy. We used data from the Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey conducted from 2007 to 2016–2018. The study population consisted of two groups: the treatment group, aged 65 years or older and eligible for the dental insurance benefit; and the control group, those younger than 65 years and ineligible. The main evaluated outcome was self-reported chewing difficulty.
Results: The ITS analysis showed that chewing difficulty decreased annually by 0.93% (95% CI, −1.30 to −0.55%) and 0.38% (95% CI, −0.59 to −0.16%) after the policy extension in the older than 65 and younger than 65 groups, respectively. However, we could not conclude that the insurance extension affected chewing difficulty because there was a decrease in the control group as well.
Conclusion: Chewing ability improved in both older and younger adults regardless of dental insurance coverage for older adults. Other exogenous factors probably led to the improvements in chewing ability as well as dental insurance benefits.